Planet Earth is under the siege of Covid-19 pandemic. But a key issue related to it is being ignored - mental health, especially of children. Recently, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had revealed 66 children committed suicide in the state in a span of less than four months.
The CM also mentioned about 'Chiri' a tele-counselling initiative by the government under its 'Our Responsibility to Children' (ORC) programme and urged Keralites to ensure a cordial atmosphere at homes and to approach children with love.
The government has decided to constitute a 15-member team of Student Police Cadets in all districts to help children.
The health department in the state has launched 'Ottakalla Oppamundu' - You are not alone, we are with you - programme to help children facing any kind of mental distress and to check suicidal tendencies.
The state government has also set up a committee headed by Fire and Rescue Services DGP R Sreelekha to conduct a study on child suicides in the state.
The gravity of the situation is now slowly emerging.
Dr. Ramash K, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Kozhikode Medical college, talked to Onmanorama on why children slip into a weak mental state and why shunning the taboo tag, the topic should be discussed openly.
“There is a stigma attached to the topic in our society and people generally shy away from discussing it openly. Some even think that children might be pushed into suicidal thoughts if we talk to them about it,” Dr Ramash said.
But that is a baseless notion. On the contrary, it will provide relief to those who are feeling low, he said.
“About 50 % of suicides happen as a fall out of depression. Most of them suffer from borderline personality disorder (BPD) wherein they feel that nobody loves them, they are alone and unimportant in this world and so on,” he said.
He insisted that there should be more discussions and literature on the topic should be made available. This will help parents and elders take necessary steps to motivate the troubled minds and ward off their negative thoughts.
Kids are more sensitive and demanding as each of their needs are fulfilled instantly by parents.
Thus they become inept to bear even a slight dent in their aspirations, Dr Ramash said. It is imperative to seek an expert's advice once children start showing signs of borderline personality disorder, he advised.
Thus, the sudden change in lifestyle, rampant influx of Covid-related negative news breaks, hurdles in the newly established online education system, unrest in family would impact them.
Lack of school atmosphere and the opportunity to venture out or meet friends and the desperate wait for return of normalcy would also nag tender minds. So, it is important for grown ups to approach kids with a keen understanding of the situation and help them defuse their pent up feelings of remorse and despondence, he said.